Dark Days, Ghosts, and Inspiration

coffee

Coffee with Vampires, Ghosts and Poe

I’ve been having a bad case of Empty Nest Blues lately. Yes, even without any kids in the house, or kids almost out of the house, I can do anything. Right? Yes, but like everything else it is always complicated with me. As I brooded about my lack of brood and lack of inspiration my brother Val stopped by for coffee.

As I filled the French Press with hot water, Val grabbed cups and poured in a shot of blood and half/half in each cup. He put two packages of Equal in his, one in mine.

“Dark day?” He asked.

“I feel frozen. But I’ll be fine. Tell me about your sorry existence.” That was a joke. Val has a lovely existence, especially for a Vampire.

We sat and talked about a lot of things. I thought about being inspired to be inspired.

I poured more coffee into my cup and posed a question to my brother. “What if Edgar Allen Poe had lived. He died in 1849, so he might have heard of the gold find in California. What if he’d live and come to California? What if he’d continued to write and eventually met Bret Harte and Mark Twain? What if he’d met Lotta Crabtree? What if he’d met us?”

“Imagine him on the ship with our parents. That would have been fun.”

“Poe would have loved them.”

“He would have ended up becoming a Vampire. Mom would have made sure of that.”

“Maybe,” I said. “He was so odd and broken, but he shouldn’t have died. I think he was murdered.”

“That’s the rumor.”

One idea leads to another, and I make mental notes for stories, books, and artwork that I think a lot about and might someday create, or finish, or forget. The thought is depressing, or exciting depending on who is thinking it. If I’m thinking it right now it seems vague and somewhat depressing, and impossible, and overwhelming. Tomorrow it might be another answer.

As we talked, and my mood brightened and became more hopeful, Val and I looked out the window into my back yard. We could see the ghosts, Nigel and Mary by the fence. They were dancing to music we couldn’t hear. Being ghosts, dealing with their own deaths, and murders, had taken a toll on both, but they pulled themselves out of their own broken fog and made a life after death for themselves. Love will do that. Don’t get me wrong, Nigel is still a major asshole, but sometimes I see that light I know he had when he was alive. Like with Poe, I wonder what he would have achieved had he lived. He’d be fifty-eight now, had he not died in 1986.

Nigel looked up at us and waved at Val. Then he looked at me. Our eyes locked, and he flipped me off. Then Nigel and Mary vanished, as she continued to dance, and he glared at me.

I can relate to the songs and dances of the broken. These are not all sad songs. They’re just songs of those who have maybe had more complex paths to wander along.

Val had always been along my path with me, but we’ve taken side trails alone.

But like with my brother’s visit, I always circle around and return to the joy and love of my family, my friends, and of my imagination.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

don't be a ghost

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/broken/

 

 

 

Ask Juliette: Motivation for College Bound Teens, Swamp Apes, and New Books

Ask Juliette (Ask a Vampire – Advice for Everyone) is a regular Thursday feature on VampireMaman. If you have a questions about parenting, relationships, life, gardening, Vampires, Werewolves, paranormal stuff, art, creativity, history – or just about ANYTHING – just ask and I’ll do my best to answer. And why yes, these questions are from my readers. Send your questions to juliettevampiremom @ gmail dot com.

arthurrackhamcrowmice

 

My daughter keeps putting off studying for her next ACT test and was supposed to have some essays started for her college admission applications by now. How do I approach her about this next time without her shouting, “I KNOW MOM!!!” every time I have asked her about it this summer?

THIS is one of those overwhelmingly difficult questions. I don’t have a guaranteed fix for this. I do have a few suggestions.

Older teens are almost adults but not quite. Some are super excited about going on to college, trade schools, or into jobs, but for most it is like a great abyss of the unknown staring in front of them. If they join the military or a religious order a lot of the work is done for them. But for the rest is isn’t so black and white. There is a lot of gray.

A lot of kids have a difficult time being motivated because they are, plain and simple, feeling overwhelmed.

If you look at most SAT, ACT prep books it will make your head spin. The same goes for college essays. College essays are especially difficult because it is hard for most people to write about themselves. There is pressure to sound real, but sound smart, and sound perfect, but not too perfect, and the list goes on.

Talk with your daughter. Help her come up with a plan. She should schedule quiet time just for studying the SAT or working on her essay. Set aside the time in a quiet place. Even get special snacks for it (teens love their snacks.) Make sure everyone else in the house know this is her time and respect it.

Discuss the essay questions with her. Discuss college and the school. Build her up and let her know you’re with her on this. Help her find her passion and the spark by brainstorming with her. You don’t have to write it for her but make sure she knows she isn’t alone in this.

My daughter found a fun app called something like SAT Question of The Day. Each day there is a question and you can go back and see previous questions. It is a lot of fun. We played it together whenever we were in the car, or just hanging out. It is fun even if you aren’t taking the test.

Also let her know that what she has to say is as important as any other student. She might not have been working on a cure for cancer, or a new engine that runs on grass clippings, but she has done wonderful things. No kid is perfect. Colleges aren’t looking for perfect. They are looking for a voice with passion, and honesty, and the desire to learn.

I asked my own seventeen year old high school senior about this. Her response was, “It is all on the kid. If they don’t want to do it then that isn’t on the parent. It is their future. If they don’t care there isn’t anything you can do about it.” She is a hard one, that daughter of mine.

 

 

I love your blog and stories, especially the stories about your brothers, Tellias and Eleora the Elders, the Ghost, and the Austin and Elizabeth stories. Why don’t you make them into books? You’re so talented. You’d have a string of best sellers.

Oh shucks, gosh, and a big sigh. Good question. Uncomfortable question. Please see the pervious question. Yes, I need to do that. I need to start TODAY. I mean, yes, I already have thousands of pages already written. How come I’m not doing it? Because something is seriously wrong with me. Seriously.

The good news is that I am working on a novel which features Nigel, The Ghost as one of the main characters. I’m not in it, but I might make a Hitchcock, Cussler, Tarantino sort of cameo appearance.

But yes, but then again I’m a flake, then again I really need to do this, not just for me but for my characters, and most of all for my readers. I WANT to do it. Just keep talking me into it. And snacks. No, maybe not snacks (I don’t need extra company.)

Moth

The following isn’t a question just a comment to a comment.

Skunk Ape hood ornaments: they’re what all the fashionable Vampires are accessorizing their vehicles with this year.

I was wondering what the Hell my friend Matthew had on his car. A Skunk Ape. Holy Crap.

I’m skipping that trend because A) it will soon be unfashionable as we know Vampires are rather fickle, B) it would look silly on a Ford Fusion, C) it is a Skunk Ape.

There is always a lot of discussion around these parts about large hairy non-bear, primate-like, human-like creatures who walk the forests, swamps, and mountains of North America, and other parts of the known universe. In this I also include things like The Jersey Devil, and Moth Man. Well, maybe not Moth Man. Most of us know this creature as Big Foot or Sasquatch.

A Skunk Ape is a Big Foot who lives in Florida. They are super stinky, like bad cabbage. Sometimes they are called Cabbage Man or Cabbage Ape. Stay out of my basement Skunk Ape.

My favorite book about these creatures is Naked Came the Sasquatch by John Boston. I LOVE this book. Of course it is funny.
https://www.amazon.com/Naked-Came-Sasquatch-John-Boston-ebook/dp/B00NB1POO2

Moth

Thanks again everyone for your questions/comments. See you next Thursday with more. If you have a burning question send me a message at juliettevampiremom @ gmail .com (take out the spaces, I put them in to prevent spammers, bots, and trolls)

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

 

 

Musings on Morning Distractions

Dry drought landscape without a ghost in sight.

Dry drought landscape without a ghost in sight.

7:25 am: Drop child off at high school. Have fun, love you, learn something.

7:40 am: Arrive late to 7:30 am meeting.

9:00 am: Meeting over. All is well. OK.

9:15 am: Arrive home. Good dog. Glad to see you too. Check email. Hey sweet kitty. Check email. Answer emails. Send invoices. Think about what I’ll read next. What mood am I in?

9:40 am: Go to bank. Get coffee. I usually make coffee but I didn’t feel like it today and I was already out.

10:00 am: Check email again. Good dog. Glad to see you too. 

10:30 am: Start writing. Sketch out idea for mural that popped into my head and make note to call Amelia about it. Start writing again. Good dog. Glad to see you too.

11:20 am: Feel distracted. I look outside in hopes of seeing a ghost. No luck. The only thing out there are turkeys picking bugs out of the dry grass. Even the squirrels and song birds are taking the day off. I go upstairs. College boy is still asleep. I’ll wake him later. Young Vampires need their sleep. He won’t get much after he gets back to school. He said he wants me to take him to Target later to get stuff for his house. Sounds like fun. The girl child is collecting stuff for college already but the man child is lacking in his domestic planning. His thoughts are on his wardrobe. Image is everything. EVERYTHING.

So I’m now here writing a blog post about my typical day because, while I was motivated this morning I’m finding myself with a major case of brain-drain.

The calico cat is curled in the next chair making a loud snoring purring noise. She is exceptionally cute, especially considering what a stealth killer she is.

I check my email again. Someone wants to know how to turn someone into a Vampire. I send the message to my trash bin. Someone else wants to know about writing a novel. I say DO IT.  A friend sends a lunch invitation. It is the kind of lunch invitation I like. A little food, maybe a glass of wine, then some private time with my teeth in his neck, and sweet dreams for him. I could use that. Maybe it will help with my brain drain.

I add water to the fish tank. The goldfish get all excited and swim around like they’re playing Just Dance on the wii. Goldfish are like that. Another reason it is fun to have them around.

I got the goldfish so they could make my office a good workspace. Unfortunately I bring my computer to the breakfast table and work here. The fish space gets too bright in the mornings. Even if I wasn’t a Vampire it would be too bright.

Downstairs I look out the window. Not ghosts. No birds. No cats. No green grass. Just a kumquat tree filled with bees and a sorry mess of droopy orange and lemon trees screaming for me to water them. The rosemary is happy without me. I wish the drought would end.

My coffee is gone that means I need to get back to my book… and wake up my sleeping beauty so I can have an excuse to be distracted again.

Good dog. Glad to see you too. Do you want a treat? Good dog.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Snoring out a purrrrrr

Snoring out a purrrrrr

Vampire guilt and parenting… more musings and general BS

Juliette Vampire Maman

Juliette
Vampire Maman

Someone recently asked me if Vampires have support groups for our guilt about being what we are.

I think not.

What would we talk about? My obsession with tofu? My secret spray on tan? My loathing of black clothing?

Even the lowliest of Vampires, the shadow creepers, the awkward ones who live in the dark underground are no ashamed of who and what they are. They know they have support if they need it. All they have to do is reach out and find another of their kind.

OK that isn’t completely true. But support groups?

I know I’m insensitive. I’m writing myself into a hole. Actually I’m not insensitive. I’m extremely sensitive, but…

I asked my friend Adam the Werewolf about it. He said they just go out for a run in the woods and pee on things when they feel misunderstood. Actually he said, “mark territory.”

Oh right, this is a parenting blog…

My kids were fortunate enough to have a speaker come into their school and talk to them about life and such. Yes, he was a motivational speaker, but not the sort that I have railed against (the con artists). This guy actually helps kids. He lets them know that life is HARD, not all puppies and bunnies. BUT if they stop worrying about the small stuff then the big stuff will be easier. He talked with a lot of kids afterword and from what I hear has helped teens who are sexually abused, bullied or just plain confused.

That brought on discussions about leaders and followers and cults and joiners and the importance of being yourself and being confident and taking control of your life.

I was dealing the other day with Matthew, an old Vampire who has just come out into the modern world, as well as Cody who has been a Vampire less than two years.

What a difference. Matthew was living in the dark almost in hiding. I don’t think he truly ever accepted who and what he is. Cody on the other hand is completely taking control of his situation. It doesn’t help that Cody is sleeping with my great great great grandmother but that is another story.

So, where were we?

Ummmm, Vampires, teens, staying true, self-confidence…

What I have tried to instill into my kids is that you have to be true to yourself. Be proud of yourself. That said, if you want something you have to work for it. That is true with everything, including relationships with others. How you treat others is important. Support, respect differences, encourage openness, and always remember to laugh. Keep a sense of humor. Don’t let your friends brood – and be there for them. Especially with Vampires – we tend to brood. That isn’t a good thing. It is both depressing and unattractive.

That said, and that includes my jaded opinions of almost everything… if you see someone who needs help, is sad, is depressed, is in trouble or confused – help them. Get them the resources they need. Or most of all, just listen. The best advice you can give is silent – just listen. Make tea, hold a hand, go for a walk, bring flowers and just listen. And a hug is good too.

So I will deal with my feelings for tofu on my own and make no excuses. I like tofu. That is ok, even for a Vampire.

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Vampire Maman

Doodling and Thinking Out Loud

I was all set out to write about how as a busy Vampire mom I never have enough time. Then again I don’t have the self-indulgent luxury of feeling sorry for myself.

A busy friend of mine (a dad) said “If you want something done ask a busy person.”

I have a deadline for some short stories and suddenly writer’s block has hit me like a big block of iron ore right in the side of the head.

Then there are those four novels looming around like ghosts. Two of them 90% done. All are exceptionally good if I may say so myself. My husband doesn’t believe I’ll get them done before my 200th birthday. I need an editor.

And speaking of ghosts…my ghost is gone. I don’t know where the nasty little bastard went. Damn him.

I was going to write a post about either Werewolves, my new Vampire Cody or my business partner and how she handles working with Vampires.  But I didn’t.  I started to and it just turned out stupid.

So instead I’m sharing a photo of the cat. He isn’t a Vampire. Just a cat who is quiet good at being a cat as you can see.  The spell check said I should say “that is quite good at being a cat” but I see him as a WHO not a THAT.  The Grammar police have no power over me today. But back to the cat…he is quite wonderful.

Vampire Maman's Cat

Vampire Maman’s Cat

And speaking of grammar:

You may say a cat uses good grammar. Well, a cat does — but you let a cat get excited once; you let a cat get to pulling fur with another cat on a shed, nights, and you’ll hear grammar that will give you the lockjaw. Ignorant people think it’s the noise which fighting cats make that is so aggravating, but it ain’t so; it’s the sickening grammar they use.
– Mark Twain, A Tramp Abroad

And I’m sharing some doodles by my phone, not done on some app, but scribbled with pen and pencil on my desk. I’ve cropped out dates, phone numbers and names. Add to list “Do Serious Artwork.” It is too bad I didn’t turn the California Artist Julian Rix (look him up) into a Vampire when I had a chance. He was a lot of fun. That was back in the late 1870’s. But art…yes, I need to get serious again or … I could just doodle I suppose.

doodle1 1

doodle1

doodle1 2

That last doodle is my cat and me.

Like they tell the kids at lunchtime in preschool “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.”

And no, my husband will never figure out how my mind works and he gave up a long long time ago. He doesn’t read this blog either, but I’m fine with that. If you blog don’t expect your partner to read it. That is usually a good thing.

So anyway, have a Vampire sort of day – you know, happy and Gothic and all full of fun and bats and cocktails and passion and stuff like that.  Add to list: Passion. Call Teddy.

 

 

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman